Attendees seeking to be at the forefront of knowledge in the navigation field got a jump on annual conference proceedings by virtually attending 4 preconference workshops that addressed issues of importance to navigators.
Genetics and Genomics
Key to providing personalized medicine in cancer care, genetic and genomic testing and the issues surrounding them are areas of knowledge with which navigators must be equipped. Frank dela Rama, RN, MS, AOCNS, AGN-BC, and Jennifer Klemp, PhD, MPH, MA, who together make up the AONN+ Genetics and Genomics Committee, along with other experts, provided the opportunity to gain such knowledge during their workshop on the topic.
“The current state of genetics and genomics is really so fluid,” Dr Klemp said. “There’s nothing static about it.”
In line with the Building Relationships in Delivering Genetic/Genomic Education (BRIDGE) program, whose goal is to use educational interventions to best connect oncology nurse and patient navigators to cancer genetics and genomics professionals, the BRIDGE symposium sought to arm navigators with the tools to educate patients and advocate for appropriate referrals to genetic professionals, ensuring access to appropriate testing.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure we’re referring the patients appropriately,” said Elisabeth King, RN, FNP, AOCNP, AGN, adding, “Know the red flags for hereditary cancer syndromes. National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines are your friend. You don’t have to know everything. Let’s do this together.”
Among the myriad changes the COVID-19 pandemic has sprung upon the world, financial difficulties represent one of the most impactful. Oncology navigators are already aware of the importance of financial navigation within a cancer program, and the new economic landscape has only enhanced the critical nature of these services, which involve helping patients through the process of determining how to pay for their care, through insurance coverage and/or financial assistance.
“It’s really important to prepare for the patient,” said Angie Santiago, AA, CRCS. “From the patient perspective, it really shows we’re there to support them.”
This workshop provided a primer on how navigators can show the worth of their current financial navigation programs or gain administrative buy-in to start a new one; evaluate preemptive screening for financial toxicity and build community support for those facing it; and construct a strong foundation for financial navigation programs using frameworks provided by national experts in the field. In addition, the presenters discussed resources for financial navigation programs, including new financial technology tools, as well as how to measure and track such programs to demonstrate their success.
“Track, track, and track some more,” advised Nikki Barkett, BSN, RN, OCN, saying it helps to provide evidence of the value of financial navigation programs.
A collaborative effort among the experts on the AONN+ Leadership Council, the professional development workshop incorporated the varied voices of leaders in the field to offer insights on team-building, coaching, and how to meet challenges that arise for those in leadership roles.
“Navigators must commit to lifelong learning and the pursuit of continuing education,” said Cheryl Bellomo, MSN, RN, OCN, HON-ONN-CG. “Staying current in navigation practice is a key component of professional development.”
Participants also gained knowledge on individual leadership styles, along with methodologies to collaborate, communicate, and interact with fellow professional leaders.
“I think we’re always figuring out new ways to be leaders,” said Jennifer Bires, MSW, LICSW, OSW-C, adding that shared goals comprise an important component of this. “We always want to build buy-in with our team members, and one way of doing this is making sure everyone has a stake.”
Providing national leadership for the development, education, standardization, and sustainability of patient navigation, the Patient Navigator Training Collaborative offered a piece of the exclusive curriculum they regularly offer to navigators through their program. Andi Dwyer, BS, Patricia Valverde, PhD, MPH, and Erin Martinez, MPH, outlined techniques for motivational interviewing, a counseling style rooted in social work that helps to elicit positive behavioral changes in patients.
“It’s about the client, Dr Valverde said. “It’s all focused on enhancing the person’s own motivation to change.”